William Eichler 22 February 2018

Court rules councils cannot use selective licensing to impose safety standards

The Court of Appeal has today ruled councils cannot use selective licensing conditions to impose new standards on private rented homes.

Accrington landlord Paul Brown took Hyndburn Council to court after it sought to use its selective licensing scheme to force the installation of carbon monoxide detectors and carry out electrical safety checks.

Mr Brown, who had already carried out both of these requirements, argued imposing such standards through licensing schemes went beyond the powers available to local authorities.

He made the case that councils should, instead, use the powers available to them under the Housing, Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) to address electrical and gas safety issues.

HHSRS is the risk-based evaluation tool to help councils identify and protect against risks and hazards to health and safety from any problems identified in dwellings.

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA), who supported Mr Brown’s case, welcomed the court’s decision and called for the HHSRS guidance to be updated.

‘This case was not about trying to stop councils from imposing requirements,’ RLA policy adviser, Richard Jones, said.

‘It was about how they go about this ensuring that they use the proper processes which already exist.

‘Today’s judgement is a reminder that councils already have extensive powers to deal with properties found to be unsafe and they must act in a legal manner.’

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